Conditions to pose stiff questions, India pad up to fight for elusive win over South Africa
Calcutta, December 26, dmanewsdesk: India’s last Test tour of South Africa is remembered for two reasons — Virat Kohli quitting captaincy a day after the series was lost in Cape Town and the infamous stump mic rant of Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravichandran Ashwin, a result of the pent-up frustration after Dean Elgar won a review for a leg-before decision.
Having come close to snatching their maiden series victory in South Africa, the disappointment was writ large in Kohli’s act of kicking the air and blaming the broadcasters: “Well done, DRS. Very well done”.
It’s not that India have been outplayed on all of their tours to the rainbow nation. During their last five Test tours to South Africa, India have won a Test on four occasions and took the series to a decider while being in the series lead twice.
Some of those losses perhaps still hurt and the new series beginning Tuesday in Centurion will be a chance to set the record straight. The bowlers have always found the conditions in sync with their style and it won’t be much different this time too.
This will be a two-Test series with little room for errors. The unavailability of Mohammed Shami in such conditions will be a “big loss” and captain Rohit Sharma was quick to accept it during the news conference on the match eve.
A good mix of youngsters and experienced players will make the team hope and start on a promising note. But it won’t be easy since South Africa will try and make it difficult for them. The greenish wicket for the opener at SuperSport Park is expected to be fast and bouncy, besides overcast conditions making it even more difficult for the batters; a possible hint of turn could only be available for the second Test in Cape Town.
Doubts though remain on the home bowling: Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi are coming back from a foot and ankle injury, respectively. Gerald Coetzee could be an interesting choice with his use of short deliveries against the likes of youngsters like Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill.
The conditions have forced the Indians to go with a four-pronged pace attack. This means Ashwin will have to be sidelined for another overseas Test with the conditions dictating the choices.
It rained for most of the day on Monday forcing the teams to skip practice.
Jasprit Bumrah, playing his first Test since July 2022, and Mohammed Siraj are certain starters along with Shardul Thakur. It will be toss-up between Mukesh Kumar and Prasidh Krishna.
A good start will make things easier for Rohit’s team.
Source: The Telegraph online